Alice, Hannah, Sarah, Bianca, and Kate lived in the hundred-year-old house on Montgomery Street, near the art school and the women’s college. They mixed teas and tinctures, dyed fabrics in the backyard, designed costumes for children’s plays, gave each other late-night tattoos, smithed jewelry, and stitched leather. They read tarot, talked aura, charted horoscopes, and parked their dirt bikes in the basement. They smoked on the porch in their underwear and wore whatever the fuck they wanted. It had been forty-four roommates since the old family had moved out.
Ward Long used to live alone. When he lost his lease at the start of summer, his friend Ara said there might be an open room on Montgomery Street for a few months. At first, he wondered why they let him live there. His new housemates had an everyday physical, emotional, and spiritual closeness; it was infectious.
He was infatuated with their friendships, in love with their strength and grace, enchanted with everything. The house was full of the mismatched belongings of so many long gone roommates, but eventually, he fit in just fine. When nothing matches, everything belongs. Though intimate and private, Summer Sublet welcomes us to a space filled with kindness, humanity, ease, and self-possession. The clutter makes room for us too.
That December, Ara died with thirty-five others in the Ghost Ship warehouse fire. Ward writes that “She had given me such a tremendous gift. In the wake of her death, the home that we had created for each other seemed so much more precious and vulnerable. The house on Montgomery Street was a world of care, strength, and tenderness, and the pictures in Summer Sublet work to see that place clearly.”
Ward Long is a photographer living in Oakland, California. He received his MFA in Photography at the University of Hartford, and has exhibited his work at the Houston Center for Photography, the SFO Museum, and SF Camerawork. He was awarded Flash Forward by the Magenta Foundation, and received a Beth Block grant from the Houston Center of Photography. His self-published books have been exhibited nationally, and his work is held in numerous collections, including the University of Virginia and Pier 24 Photography. He teaches photography and bookmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute.